“Can I sit with you?”
My 4 y/o daughter sat on the bench of our dining set, eating a spaghetti lunch off a cream-colored Tupperware tray, her golden hair pulled back in a four-inch pony tail.
“Sure, mom. Sit by me.”
I sat down on the chair next to her, but not on the bench. She questioned my choice of seat.
“I don’t like getting off and on that bench, honey. Momma’s getting old,” I playfully told her.
She reached her delicate hand up to my face, and gently stroked the lines around my mouth.
“You’re not old mommy. Well, maybe a little here. But you’re not OLD.”
I smiled. My sweet, observant girl was growing up so fast.
“Mommy, why are you so big?”
I wasn’t sure what she meant. But as a woman, my initial thought was, “fat.” But we don’t use the F-word in our house.
“What do you mean? What does big mean to you?”
She reached her arms up toward the ceiling. She meant tall.
“Well, our whole family is tall, sweetie. And your daddy is tall. So, someday you’ll be tall, too.”
She looked at me skeptically. I could see the wheels turning in her small yet powerful mind.
“Being tall can be really great. It’s kind of hard when you’re taller than your friends. You might feel like you stick out. And you might be taller than the boys in your class for awhile. But it’s important to be proud of who you are. Wear heels if you want. Stand up straight. Tall is beautiful.”
Why was I telling her all these things? Why were these words spilling out? Because I’d heard them before. From my fellow Amazonian female relatives and from friends who were called “big boned” while growing up. Having a large frame isn’t always easy. Clothes are often difficult to find, and shoes are such nightmare. I want my daughters to feel confident with their build, and not hunch over or hide their height for the sake of fitting in.
My daughter got up. She came over behind my chair, and pulled at the waistband of my pants.
“What’s the number on your tag, mom?”
And here we were, at a place where I didn’t feel so confident. My size. My weight. My stupid hormones that roller coaster up and down, causing me to look 6 months pregnant one day, and still have a prominent pooch on other days. It’s hard to believe I was a 4 or 6 in college. I really have no idea how that was possible, given the size of my hips. Then again, those have widened with time, too. All of these thoughts swirled through my head, and my daughter was just waiting for an answer. This back story did not interest her, nor should it. I am her mother. I am beautiful to her.
With a broad smile I said, “I am a 10.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Awesome! I wear a 5 now mommy! I’m almost as big as you! I want to be just like you.”
She skipped around the table and back to the bench. She sat down, kicking her legs that still swing in the air. That won’t last much longer. Soon, her legs and arms will sprout almost overnight, and she’ll be a tangle of knees and elbows until puberty hits. Then, her hips will expand, life will begin its beautiful process, and 25 years from now, she WILL be just like me. And if she’s a 10? Perfect.